Christmas holiday sales increased 5.1% to total more than $850 billion in 2018, registering the strongest growth in the last six years, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, Online shopping also saw a large gain of 19.1% compared to 2017.
“From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks. “By combining the right inventory with the right mix of online versus in-store, many retailers were able to give consumers what they wanted via the right shopping channels.”
The report offers details of holiday shopping that occurred from November 1 through Dec. 24. Key findings indicate that despite weather challenges, this was a winning holiday season for retail overall. However, the story was different by category.
Total apparel had a strong season with a growth rate of 7.9% compared to 2017, recording the best growth rate since 2010. The category followed through on its strong momentum that started during the back-to-school season and accelerated throughout the fall right up to Christmas.
Home improvement spending continued to surge across the U.S. with spending during the holiday season up 9.0%. This trend started before the holiday season and helped the sector power through to a strong finish.
Department stores finished the season with a 1.3% decline from 2017. This follows two years with growth below 2%, some of which can be attributed to store closings. However, the online sales growth for department stores indicated a more positive story, with improvement of 10.2%.
Electronics and appliances were down 0.7% and home furniture and furnishings grew by 2.3%.